Cinema and Photography B.F.A. or B.A.

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Be a visual storyteller. Produce stories for the camera to entertain, inform, challenge, and change the world with your work.  

Cinema and photography students practice and gain skills in photographic and cinematographic production such as screenwriting, shooting, directing, sound design, motion graphics, editing, as well as in specific fields of production such as commercial, editorial, documentary, and photojournalism production. The program provides students with professional competency and critical analysis skills in preparation for today’s merged media environment. From reflected lights to the red carpet, from darkrooms to drone videography, exciting careers in cinema, television, and photography await this program’s graduates.

The B.F.A. in Cinema and Photography degree program provides students with practical experience and professional fluency in visual storytelling, composition, and project development, as well as in new platforms for lens-based expressions that are transforming the industry and culture. The program structure is hands-on and production-intensive, preparing students for professional careers or for pursuing graduate study.

The B.A. in Cinema and Photography degree offers a multi-faceted approach to studying cinema and photography in practice and theory. Students study lens-based media as an academic discipline while gaining complementary professional skills in photographic and cinematographic production.  Through hands-on assignments, screenings, and by critically analyzing the industry’s past, present, and future, students gain a comprehensive approach to lens-based media for a professional career or for furthering their education with a graduate degree.

Both programs offer:

  • Professional Focus: Starting the first semester, and throughout the whole program, students do hands-on cinematic and photographic production work. Each student is encouraged, and in the B.F.A. program required, to complete a professional internship as well as a professional portfolio, the latter highlighting the student’s competency and skills through selected examples of the student’s work. The Academic Media Center and independent student media on campus offer additional opportunities for gaining professional experiences.
  • Interdisciplinary Curriculum: The program’s interdisciplinary curriculum provides students with practical skills, knowledge, and competency in cinema, television, and photography, as well as a comprehensive understanding of how these industries operate. 
  • Professional Facilities with 24-Hour Access to Labs and Studios: Instructional resources include the award-winning Academic Media Center, which hosts production studios and equipment, sound, animation and VR/AR labs. The Wheatley Center facilities include a lighting studio, camera equipment, analog darkroom, large format digital printing lab, a variety of digital tools for still and moving image making, and an exhibiting gallery. Students have 24-hour access to a variety of equipment, studios and labs.
  • Internationally Recognized Faculty: Cinema and photography professors are practicing media professionals, artists and academics with diverse global experiences. Their work has been exhibited and recognized internationally. They have authored films, television content, works of photography, books, and many other media and art works. Students learn the very latest industry trends from them. Each year students also have an opportunity to engage with the year’s Visiting Documentary Filmmaker-in-Residence as well as with other visiting professionals, artists and scholars.
Degree Requirements and Courses
Program Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Cinema and Photography major, students should be able to:

  • critically evaluate their own work and that of others;
  • demonstrate conceptual and technical proficiency suitable for a lens-based career with an emphasis on one area of excellence in the field;
  • read, analyze and discuss history, theory and criticism of the field, demonstrating understanding of creative media as an area of constantly evolving aesthetic, cultural, economic and technological endeavor; 
  • maintain currency in industry trends and standards, and awareness of the role of individual practitioners in professional innovation and governance. 
Career Preparation

Graduates of the B.F.A. in Cinema and Photography program have careers in fields such as 

  • advertising
  • commercial and independent film production
  • commercial photography
  • documentary photography
  • editorial photography
  • film production
  • image retouching
  • photojournalism
  • sports photography
  • television production
  • wedding, seniors, and family photography
  • graduate studies particularly in M.F.A. programs 

Graduates of the B.F.A. in Cinema and Photography program work in roles such as  

  • art director
  • cinematographer
  • creative director
  • director - film, television, video
  • editor – film, television, video
  • filmmaker – independent and commercial in documentary and fictional film production
  • film and TV producer
  • photographer
  • photography retoucher   
  • photo editor
  • photojournalist
  • production assistant
  • production coordinator
  • screenwriter
  • social media content creator
  • studio assistant
  • videographer

The B.A. in Cinema and Photography prepares students for a wide range of professional trajectories. Graduates of the B.A. in Cinema and Photography program have careers in fields such as 

  • art administration
  • art industries 
  • broadcast sports and journalism 
  • commercial and independent film production
  • content distribution 
  • media and entertainment industries – film, television, streaming, video
  • photography 
  • production management
  • television production
  • wedding, seniors, and family photography 

Graduates of the Cinema and Photography program work in roles such as 

  • director - film, television, video
  • editor – film, television, video
  • filmmaker – independent and commercial in documentary and fictional film production
  • film and TV producer
  • film and TV producer
  • news anchor
  • news and sports reporter
  • photographer
  • photojournalist
  • producer
  • production assistant
  • screenwriter
  • social media content creator
  • studio assistant
  • technical director 
  • videographer
  • graduate studies particularly in communication, media studies, library and archive studies, rhetoric, and related disciplines 
Demand for Cinema and Photography Professionals

Pittsburgh is a popular destination for filmmakers and television crews. Check out the Pittsburgh Film Office to see the recent productions shot in the region.  MovieMaker’s 2021 list of the Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker ranks Pittsburgh third on its list in the small cities and towns category.

Film and video editors and camera operators

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 18% growth in U.S. employment for film and video editors and camera operators from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. The number of Internet-only platforms, such as streaming services, is likely to increase, along with the number of shows produced for these platforms. 

The May 2020 median annual wages 

  • for film and video editors $67,250 
    • in the top industries film and video editors
      • motion picture and video industries $77,040
      • professional, scientific, and technical services $61,450
      • television broadcasting $54,030
  • for camera operators, television, video, and film  $57,200
    • in the top industries camera operators, television, video, and film
      • motion picture and video industries $66,700
      • radio and television broadcasting $54,660
      • government $52,550
      • professional, scientific, and technical services $43,930

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators, at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/film-and-video-editors-… (visited April 14, 2021).

Producers and directors

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10% growth in U.S. employment for producers and directors from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Job growth in the motion picture and video industry is expected to stem from strong demand from the public for more movies and television shows, as well as an increased demand from foreign audiences for U.S.-produced films.

The May 2020 median annual wages

  • For producers and directors $76,400
    • in the top industries for producers and directors
      • advertising, public relations, and related services $95,260
      • motion pictures and video industries $91,300
      • performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries $62,860

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Producers and Directors, at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/producers-and-director… (visited April 15, 2021).

Special effects artists and animators

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects average 4% growth in in U.S. employment for special effects artists and animators from 2019 to 2029. Video games, television and movies face increased demand for employees in this field.   

The May 2020 median annual wages

  • for special effects artists and animators $77,700
    • in the top industries for special effects artists and animators    
      • motion picture and video industries $92,250
      • software publishers $82,330
      • advertising, public relations, and related services $73,820
      • computer systems design and related services $69,200

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Special Effects Artists and Animators, at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/multimedia-artists-and-animator… (visited April 14, 2021).

Freelance photographers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects demand for self-employed photographers to grow. Also, photography using newer technology tools increase demand for professional photographers while the increasing number of amateur photographers is impacting the projected overall 2019-2029 growth, a slight decline of 4%. Demand for professional photographers remains strong particularly in portrait and commercial photography, and in the use of newer technologies, such as drone photography. According to the Bureau, "Job prospects will be best for candidates who have a strong portfolio and related skills, such as in editing photos and capturing digital video."

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Photographers, at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/photographers.htm (visited April 14, 2021).

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The School of Informatics, Humanities and Social Sciences faculty is a team of dedicated teacher-scholars, award-winning artists, practitioners, and academics who are committed to your long-term success.

Meet the Faculty

Holtz, ChristineChristine Holtz, M.F.A.
Professor Media Arts
Media Arts Coordinator
Department of Arts and Humanities
Email: holtz@rmu.edu

Pinson, HeatherHeather Pinson, Ph.D.
Department Head 
Associate Professor of Humanities
Associate Professor of Media Arts
Department of Arts and Humanities
Email: pinson@rmu.edu

Loyola-Garcia, CarolinaCarolina Loyola-Garcia,  M.F.A.
Professor of Media Arts
Department of Arts and Humanities
Email: loyola@rmu.edu

Jones, TimTimothy Jones, Ph.D.
Director, Academic Media Center
Assistant Professor of Media Arts
Department of Arts and Humanities
Email: jonest@rmu.edu

 

Our Graduates Work at

Our graduates’ employment includes diverse media experiences and positions across the U.S. and the world,  at sites such as:

  • American Eagle
  • Comedy Central 
  • Condé Nast Traveler
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods
  • FedEx Ground
  • Harley Davidson
  • History Channel 
  • KDKA 
  • Knickerbocker
  • Levi's
  • Lexus
  • Lululemon
  • Microsoft
  • Netflix 
  • Nike
  • Noble Denim
  • Paramount Network
  • PBS
  • Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • RCA Records
  • Showtime
  • Sony
  • UPMC 
  • Urban Outfitters
  • Viacom
  • VICE 
  • WPXI
  • WTAE  
  • WTXL
  • WQED 
Testimonials

Jordan Allen

Testimonial Photo

B.F.A. in Media Arts - Television/Video Production, Class of 2013 
Editor/Shooter at WXPI, Pittsburgh, PA 

“Robert Morris gave me the opportunity to not only allow my imagination to run wild in my video projects but the tools to polish them in a professional setting. The work study programs and opportunities to work on and produce real TV shows on cable networks allowed me to acclimate to my professional life much easier and hit the ground running faster. I wouldn’t be where I am without the staff of the media department and am happy to carry the RMU legacy in every project I’m a part of.”

Channing Frampton

Testimonial Photo

B.A. Television/Video Production, RMU Class of 2011 
News Anchor at WTXL ABC 27, Tallahassee, Florida
 
“Robert Morris University set me up for success with the extensive background provided in TV and video production. From professional writing courses to ample opportunities to work with cameras and classes on the fundamentals of good video work, the foundation I built at RMU has guided me to where I am today. As an anchor at ABC 27 in Tallahassee, Florida, I’m able to pay it forward and mentor younger generations of writers, photographers, editors and directors. I wouldn’t be where I am today doing what I love without the experience I had at RMU.”

Jacob Hartzfeld

Testimonial Photo

B.A. Media Arts - Television/Video Production, minor in Photography RMU Class of 2016
Associate Producer for the Nashville Predators 
 
“I am the Pregame Producer for the Nashville Predators in Nashville TN. Robert Morris helped to prepare me for this role by giving me opportunities in both classes and extracurricular activities such as RMU-TV and Sentry Media. The classes covered a broad range of the business of Television and Video Production, and the hands-on experience in the campus TV Station added to the classes. I was able intern with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and worked with the Pens for 4 seasons before my current role with the Predators."

Michael Kropewwnicki 

Testimonial Photo

B.A. Photography and M.S. Internet Information Systems
Class of 2018
Portrait Photographer at Oh Wow Very Nice, LLC    
Photoshop/Lightroom Mentor and Professional Portrait Retoucher at Photoshop Nerd

"I can’t speak highly enough about the Media Arts department at RMU. My four years as a Bachelor of Arts student provided me with an in-depth and well-rounded look at the world of digital media, both as a creator and critic. From day one, the small class sizes and experienced instructors provided a rich learning environment, with top-notch feedback and opportunity for growth with each assignment. Competence and confidence grew semester after semester, culminating in a capstone Senior Gallery Show that held just as much importance (if not more) as the graduation ceremony. The Media Arts spaces at Wheatley Center were beautifully designed and maintained. I can honestly say that I was ALWAYS provided the tools and facilities that I needed to succeed."

Dominique Murray

Testimonial Photo

B.F.A. in Media Arts - Photography, Class of 2019
CEO / Principle Photographer at Dominique Murray Photography, Pittsburgh, PA
 
“RMU truly helped to mold and shape me into the artist and entrepreneur I am through their photography program. Prior to college, I knew I loved photography but didn’t realize how many paths I could take with it. My professors helped guide me in the right direction through a variety of classes. Through these classes, my knowledge in a variety of art forms expanded and I felt I was able to work with and compete against other photographers in the industry. I currently have multiple successful businesses - my core being Dominique Murray Photography - and a handful of my images have received national publications. I’m proud to say I have my own studio and can still rely on RMU as a source of knowledge. I keep in touch with many of my professors and they even provide me with help when needed. I genuinely could not be more thankful for my time at RMU!”

Jay T. Shaffer 

Testimonial Photo

B.A. in Media Arts - Digital Cinema and Television, Class of 2018
Production Director/Video Editor, WTAJ-TV 
Owner, Forever Forward Productions 
 
“My experience at Robert Morris University not only gave me the knowledge I needed to pursue my career; it gave me confidence that I never had before. On top of learning how to work with respective clients as well as how "the real world" works, I also had the complete freedom and ability to tap into my inner creativity that I never knew existed.

Attending classes pertaining to my major were far from a "task" that I had to endure; they were a blessing. I felt a sense of complete freedom and acceptance from my professors and classmates alike, many of which I still continue to talk to and work alongside to this day. This alone I wouldn't trade for the world.

To think that I would be working full-time at a job that I absolutely love as well as continuing to expand my own production company just a few short years after graduating blows my mind every single day. I am forever grateful for those who accepted, challenged, and believed in me throughout my RMU career. My dreams have never seemed more reachable than they do today, and I owe so much of that to my experience at Robert Morris University.”

Kendall Valan

Testimonial Photo

B.A. Television/Video Production, Minor in Journalism 
Class of 2016 
Associate Video Editor & Producer, Marketing - Paramount Network (MTV Entertainment Group, ViacomCBS)

“Being a member of RMU-TV and RMU Sentry Media was my most memorable college experience. I got involved the moment I stepped on campus. It gave me the creative freedom and resources needed to produce award-winning content, build a portfolio, and connect with other students with similar ambitions. We weren't just seen as students, but a convergence of media-makers and journalists.
 
I was drawn to the individualized attention that Robert Morris provided. Small class sizes and professors as mentors. RMU really felt like a community to grow and network. 
 
I had many RMU mentors throughout my undergraduate experience. The professors and advisors were my support system and my first helpful push to branch out into the real world. 
 
The RMU Media Arts program offered a diverse skillset to keep up with the fast-paced demand of media production. Taught well-rounded coursework that covered relevant technical production and industry standard program training that I still use in my career today.” 

Sample Courses:

These are some of the classes for students in this academic program:

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Core Credits
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Elective Credits
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School of Informatics, Humanities and Social Sciences

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